Whilst typically understood as a negative emotion, fear has a purpose. It penetrates our thoughts for a reason and the more we ignore it, the more we are at risk of suffering from its undesired consequences.
Fear has become a great method of influence for many areas of society. We are continually faced with "fear ultimatums". Politicians incite fear to win votes, governments use fear to keep society in check and parents use fear to discipline their children. Fear plays a big role in our lives.
In a career context, because we are so used to co-existing with fear we forget to monitor it. Fear-driven thoughts can sabotage our careers if left unchecked. This is because fear can alter our perceptions and reduce our desire to chase opportunities because we mistake them as "threats"- when in reality we are just scared.
Imagine what your career would look like without fear? Who could you be? In order to break down your fear barriers, you must understand your particular fears and triggers.
Breakdown of common fears
Fear of success
Did you know that fear of success is just as common as fear of failure? Many of us have been conditioned to believe that success exists with risks such as disappointment, financial loss. competition or envy.These terms create a mental picture that success comes with negative baggage. Fear of success can lead you to unconsciously sabotage your goals. This type of fear is harder to identify than the fear of failure, mainly because it is less understood. Success is unknown territory, you might feel like you're on a stage but you don't know the script and that is scary. But when you really boil down your fears - fear of embarrassment, disappointment or even competition, is it really so scary? What's the worst that can happen? Is it better to stay safe in your comfort zone, never making anything of yourself? Only you know the answer.
Fear of Failure
This is the most commonly understood fear which inhibits the success of many. The fear of failing is often driven by perfectionism. A need to always have a perception of intelligence, control or beauty. The need to never come across as a human. The truth is that the energy spent worrying about what others think, is almost always a waste of our time. This fear prevents you from learning important lessons from mistakes, lessons that created our leaders of today. You can't pay for this type of personal and professional growth - it's invaluable - but your fear of failure can prevent you from paying attention. You can box yourself into being average if you decide your failure is a sign of incompetence. How you choose to react to failure will make or break your career. It can either be a lesson or a barrier, the outcome is your choice.
How to break away from fear in your career
- Identify every fear you have when you vision your ultimate success. Name each fear, for example, Nelson or Wilfred. Make your fears less intimidating, befriend them. Use their names to identify them when they show up, "Nelson's back!" This will help you to consciously separate your fears from your mind when it matters most.
- Identify your triggers. Really dig deep and find out why you have these fears. Are you lacking in confidence? Did someone talk down to you and you let their words become your reality? Only when you face your fears, can you truly be free from them?
For more advice about how to break away from your career fears, read this useful blog @Forbes